I'm not completely convinced a game has to have a free tier. Neither Minecraft nor KSP is free, and those both huge successes (and happen to be ones I'm most familiar with, as my boys can't stop playing them). They do each have a free demo. So I'm doing the same with High Frontier: I have a free demo, which plays exactly like the full game, except that it writes nothing to disk. So you can play it as long as you keep it open, but when you quit, your colony is poof-gone. That same demo mode probably wouldn't work for an online game, but maybe you could do something similar? In fact even with free games, I get annoyed when there is a long start-up process. Typically I stumble across or hear about a game that might be interesting, but I'm a very busy person and recognize that most games are junk, so my goal is to determine whether this particular game is or is not junk as quickly as possible. I'll typically give it 5 or 10 minutes, and so if I start with 3 minutes of filling out forms, creating accounts, verifying my email address, etc., I'm annoyed before I even get into the game itself. So! Can we design a demo mode for a multiplayer online game, that accomplishes these goals: Gets a curious potential customer to the fun bits as quickly as possible. Gives them a good feel for what it's like to play the full game. Limits them in some important way, so they are motivated to pay for the full game. I'm thinking something like: you launch the game, click "Play as Guest," and you're randomly assigned one af a variety of guest characters. No account set-up, no character creation, no choices to make; just Hello, here you are and start playing now. That could be it — as in High Frontier, you can play as much as you want, without restrictions, except that as soon as you log off, that demo character disappears, and you get a completely different one when you play again. The only problem I see here is malevolent users... they would love this system, wouldn't they? This leads to putting various restrictions on the guests, such as unable to talk, unable to attack players (if there's PvP), etc. But then they're not really getting the full experience of playing the game. Not sure what to do about that. Maybe they can talk only in certain guest areas, heavily populated by smart NPCs (who will talk back if you're nice, and ignore you if you attempt to grief)? Then there's the flip side, registered players who like to grief the guests. Especially if (for example) they can attack the guests and the guests can't attack back, or simply aren't effective because the guests are always level 1. This will probably be less prevalent, since having to pay for the game right away discourages most such low-lifes, but it will still happen from time to time. Anyway, what do y'all think? Can you make an online game pay-to-play, while having a free demo mode that's close enough to the "real thing" to sell it?